Gove claims victory over spending deal

22nd October 2010 at 01:00
But unions warn surprise settlement will not protect schools from worst of the cuts

Education secretary Michael Gove was claiming victory this week after securing a surprise deal for schools that he promised will see their funding increase in real terms for the next four years.

Chancellor George Osborne announced as part of the comprehensive spending review that schools' budgets will increase from pound;35 billion to pound;39 billion until 201415 despite widespread cuts to other public services. Other departments faced cuts of 25 per cent.

But unions and members of the Opposition warned that, despite the fanfare around the settlement, schools will be rocked by a culmination of coalition cuts.

Announcing schools budgets for the next four years, Mr Osborne said he had succeeded in securing more for the country's schools.

"In June, after the Budget, when the chief secretary (to the Treasury) and I turned our attention to how to allocate spending between government departments, we set ourselves a goal.

"We wanted to see if it was possible - even when spending was being cut - to find more resources for our schools and for the early-years education of our children.

"I can tell the House that we have succeeded," he said.

Speaking after the announcement, Mr Gove said he was "pleased" to have secured a real-terms increase in schools spending.

"It is a victory in that we have secured the best possible settlement for schools, and we must now ensure that money will be spent wisely," he said.

And he added: "It is the smallest revenue cut for a Department apart from Health and it shows the Government is committed to education, but I realise that schools everywhere are prepared for tough challenges in the months ahead."

Shadow education secretary Andy Burnham, however, claimed that the Government had "sold out" the country's children, adding that the pupil premium was a "complete con".

"It does not come from outside the schools budget as the Coalition agreement promised - it is to be recycled from within it, creating huge winners and losers among schools," Mr Burnham said.

Teachers' leaders accused the Coalition of making a "retrograde" step in its spending review, adding that it would lead to the end of the fair deal for teachers' pensions.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said: "The Government may talk about protecting schools, but schools are not protected and nor are local authorities.

"Attacks are already being made on additional education funding outside of the core schools budget, with vital frontline services to schools already under threat."

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates added: "Teachers and other public sector workers will be deeply dismayed by the chancellor's decision to increase pension contributions and to review defined benefits."

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